I'm off to Didcot for a meeting to talk about the Baptist Assembly. Nothing new there. I've done this on odd days for the past five years. But this promises to be something different.
I think the Assembly is at a cross-roads and possibly doesn't have a future in its current form. The suggestion for next year is an assembly that lasts from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon in Plymouth. Will people from Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, even Leicester, Birmingham and London spend upwards of £250 and risk the weekend traffic jams on the M5 for barely 48 hours worth of Assembling?
I doubt it.
But there's a deeper issue. Why are we inviting people to come at all? The shorter the event, the more dominated it is by business meetings. And my admittedly completely unscientific straw poll among delegates this year and friends who haven't been to the Assembly for a while suggests no one will be travelling great distances for such fare.
And then there's the reason why I'm invited along - Prism, the alternative strand of the Assembly. The question is: can you have an alternative to an assembly that barely lasts two days and is dominated by the business meetings for which we do not offer an alternative (perhaps we should)?
So, I think Baptists need to have a proper debate about the Assembly - what it is, how long it should it be, where we should meet. I wonder if anyone has the energy for such a debate. I wonder if we are really up for a change that will breathe fresh life into this annual gathering of English Baptists.